If you even contemplated saying yes to this question, we have a problem. Today more than ever, we have students not going to school and missing a substantial amount of days. Unlike the days of old, these students are not staying home to work and help support the family, they are staying home to play Xbox, watch Netflix and what ever else be stills their little hearts. There is no physical reason for these students not to be attending school regularly.

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Now, the real scary thing is, this pattern of not going to school is starting as early as grade Prep. Yep, first year of school. So we are talking here about a 5 or 6 year old missing their foundational learning that will set them up for the rest of their education and work life. By the time these students get to grade 5 or 6 they are so far behind in their learning and social skills, they are not equipped for secondary school. These students never transition well to secondary and as a result often leave school by year 8 or 9.

So that then means we have a person too young to work (as they are approx. 14 years old), and unemployable (if they are old enough to work), as they can’t perform basic reading, writing and arithmetic. They also have the social skills of a plank of wood, due to lack of socialisation with peers. It is important for peer relationships to form, this is where your child will learn important skills such as negotiations, reciprocal sharing, and learning social norms.

Without education you will have adults that cant be given instructions as they are used to having power and control, they think they know everything yet they have no actual skills (social or physical), they can’t charm their way into employment, because they are self righteous and cant read social cues, they also have extremely low resilience as they haven’t learnt the power of no.

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You as the parent/carer have the power to change the course of direction for this child. It is not up to the school to come to your house everyday, pick up your child and drag them into the car and deliver them to the school door. That is your job. As a parent you are not a best friend. You will not be loved every second of every day. You will have to argue with a 8 year old the benefit of getting up every day, to achieve something that you wont see results of straight away. You will however teach your child the power of NO. When a child hears no, it builds inner strength and resilience. The power of no makes us think harder and deeper. When we hear no, we have to work harder, and earn our Yes. It makes the Yes’s all the more sweeter. Without a No, we cant appreciate the Yes.

You may feel like a harsh drill sergeant getting your child to school. But the sweet reward is a healthy, happy, functioning, employable adult. If you don’t want your 35 year old, unemployable child living at home, unable to find a relationship or maintain one, sitting there in your lounge room every day watching Netflix (or the futuristic version of entertainment), with significant mental health issues. You need to say no NOW. You need to teach that child the importance of routine, such as getting up and going to school on time. The importance of doing things you don’t like, so you can enjoy things you like latter.

Without social skills, education and physical skills learnt during childhood, your child wont grow up to enjoy financial freedom (which means they wont own their own home, have adequate healthcare, a secure retirement in old age, or have holidays). They will hide from unfamiliar social situations, making friendship building and relationships difficult to obtain and maintain. They wont have skills to perform job tasks, or the stamina to finish difficult tasks. I am well aware that we don’t need nice things to have a happy life, but the world is changing. Rent is becoming ridiculously high, house prices are rising well beyond the average persons reach, the public health care system is pretty ordinary and at times barely sufficient. Let’s set our kids up for the best start to life there is.

Give your child the tools they need. If you are having trouble getting your child to school, seek help. Your job is to skill up your child to be a fully functioning adult. Don’t rob them now of a fulfilling life because its too hard to say no to them when they are young. Saying “No” to your child can be better than saying yes to every situation in the long run. You be the power of change, and instil strength and resilience in your child.

I already know I am going to get a barrage of messages telling me how self righteous I am, but I tell you these things not out of judgement, but out of care. I too am a parent and know the difficulty that comes with getting kids to school. I also see the opposite end of the spectrum through my work of people that have been disadvantaged by lack of education. Yes, there are some students who cant attend school due to health concerns, these are not the students I am referring to. Yes, not every student is made for mainstream school settings. Yes, I know the school system is also flawed and does not meet the needs of every young person. However, at primary school age we shouldn’t have issues of non-school attendance. At a secondary level we will start seeing the young persons future aspirations appear, and we can adjust the young persons education to help set them up for adulthood. This may include an alternative education setting, TAFE, apprenticeship, etc.

There are always exceptions to the norm. But for the majority of students attending main stream school (public or private) regularly has more pros than cons. If you are having difficulty getting your student to school contact your schools welfare coordinator, the Department of Education in your state or territory, or your local Child FIRST to get help and support. As parents we only want the best for our children. You can do this, you got this.

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